S.T.A.R.S. Fights Youth Tobacco UseThe Forum Courier of South Queens
March 31st - April 6th, 2004 - page 8
Young people from around the country are joining together by taking part in Kick Butts Day on Sunday, April 4,2004, a nationwide initiative makes kids, leaders in the effort to stop youth tobacco use. As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, Striving to Achieve & Reach Success (S.T.A.R.S.) will be holding a one day event that promotes their campaign against the nationwide problem caused by big tobacco. Children from the ages of 9 to 12 will be taking part in activities such as Cigarette Butt Clean-up which is an effort to pick up cigarette butts in our surrounding neighborhood. They will be expressing their feelings about Big Tobacco artistically through collages, and they will also be enlightened about the dangers of smoking as well.
This one day event will be held on Sunday April 4, 2004 from 3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. at S.TA.R.S. Youth Center, located at 8 Coleman Square in Howard Beach. S.T.A.R.S. offers a variety of programs and activities for the youth in the neighborhood.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Every day, more than 4,000 kids try their first cigarettes; another 2,000 kids become addicted smokers, one third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
"The tobacco companies make smoking look cool in their ads, but that's nothing but a lie," stated 15 year old Valon Hidra. Valon is putting this event together at S.T.A.R.S. to talk about smoking and the effects of smoking "to his younger peers. "There's nothing cool about bad breath, smelly clothes and tobacco-stained teeth and that is a fact."
Elementary, middle and high school students across the country are organizing Kick Butts Day events to fight youth tobacco use. Young people will participate in a variety of Kick Butts Day activities such as surveying tobacco advertising in their communities; urging local officials to support anti-tobacco ordinances; and tossing caps, hats, jackets and other items carrying tobacco brand names into giant dumpsters. In 2003, thousands of kids carried out more than 1,500 events. This number is expected to increase in 2004.
"Kids are a powerful part of the solution to reducing youth tobacco use," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which coordinates Kick Butts Day nationally. "For Kick Butts Day 2004, kids are sending two important messages: they want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising and they want elected leaders at all levels to do more to protect them from tobacco."
For more information about the Kick Butts Day event contact Valon Hidraat from S.TA.R.S. at 347-247-7801 or send an email to HidraV06@xavierhs.org.
For information on the national initiative, visit the Kick Butts Day web-site at kickbuttsday.org.